Pick up games for Crossfire – Mac’s Missions

Mac wanted to play pick up games of Crossfire so created a simple method of doing that with a cool graphic. I’ve added a few supporting assets, played a game and made a few recommendations for a version 2.


Mac’s Idea

Mac (11 April 2013) said on the Crossfire WWII yahoo forum:

I have been frustrated with the two scenario’s in the rule book for a long time.

To make pick-up games more interesting, I have created a set of scenario’s that give around 20 different kinds of game.

I have played this and it does seem to work.

Like any rules additions; this system does create a few issues.

In play testing, a lot of winning these scenarios is guessing what the enemy is up to. Maskirovka is the key.

I have chosen to ignore problems (like off-table artillery cannot contribute to the victory conditions). However, it does bother me that in these quick games mortars will never get to shoot off all their fire-missions. Perhaps they should get to use two fire mission per initiative to compensate.

I have printed one of each of the “icons” on cards so they can be pulled out of a cup to select scenarios. This is important because two withdrawal scenario’s makes for a weird game.

Mac put his Crossfire Missions on a single A4 sheet. The original was a PDF – you can find it in the files section of the Crossfire WWII Yahoo Forum – but for the purposes of this post I turned it into a JPG.

Crossfire Missions

Crossfire Missions


Initial impressions

Looks quite good. Nicely balanced with some interesting choices for the players. I can:

  • Take the hidden deployment option and thus limit my VP because I have less troops.
  • Choose to just walk off the table on my first initiative if I’ve got a “Withdraw” mission. But the VP adjustments make it likely the enemy will then win. So I have to stay on table until as late as possible in the game. But game end is determined randomly – I can see it coming but not exactly predict it.
  • Struggle under “Assault” orders because the defender will have a force with the same points as me. But I’ll get a 20 VP adjustment if I succeed.

Clever.


Play test

Chris Harrod, Nuno Pereira and I played one of Mac’s pick up games. Interesting experiment.

To speed things up on the day I’d already prepared four orders of battle for each of Soviet and Germans – see below. I also, as per Mac’s suggestion, made counters for the missions (see below).

We quickly set up a table. I wanted to show Nuno my buildings/ruins so the table was an urban set up on a 4’x3′ table. There were lots of buildings. (Sorry there are no photos; this game corresponded with a hard disk failure).

Nuno and I were the Soviets and commanded via a committee (i.e. we agreed who would get the actions). Chris was the Germans.

We got the “Dig in” Mission then selected an orbat with everybody on table so we could get the max number of stands. Specifically “Russian Order of Battle 2 – Attack/Defence”.

Chris deployed hidden so I knew he would take the orbat “German Order of Battle 4 – Hidden” and I guessed he has received the “Hold” Mission. It also meant I knew we had the numerical advantage because hidden costs 15 points of troops in Mac’s rules.

The “Dig In” Mission is worth 2 VP compared to 5 VP for “Hold”. So I knew we couldn’t settle for a stalemate and I attacked with my half of the Soviet force (rifle platoon; SMG platoon; HMG, 2 x FO). I just wanted to kill a stand or two and then pull back to my deployment zone. And that is sort of how it played out although I managed to discover and kill a platoon of his with no losses. Then I pulled back. And Chris sat in his deployment area. We sat in ours.

Then just before time ran out Chris pulled his forces off table. I’d guessed wrong, he’d got the “Withdraw” Mission.


Observations on the play test

By chance we got “Dig in” versus “Withdraw”, i.e. two defensive missions. That was a novelty as I always play attack-defence. What prevented two defensive missions becoming a very dull game was me sending forward a couple of platoons. After the game we rationalised that as the Soviets sending forward a strong combat patrol to find the enemy, bag a “tongue”, and inflict any damage as a bonus. The patrol was successful beyond expectations and as a result the Germans withdrew from their position overnight. All had the right feel.

There doesn’t seem to be a benefit to being “hidden”. No point for the attacking missions because troops are going to move anyway. No point for the defensive missions either. It costs 15 points of troops hence reduces the number of victory points you can earn, for example Hold gets 5 victory points + the value of all your units in your half of the battlefield but outside your base area. Once I saw Chris was Hidden I didn’t actually have to do anything to win. I knew I had a 12-15 point advantage on him without doing anything. So, if he’d thought about it, which he didn’t, he would have had to attack me to inflict casualties and compensate for being hidden. Bit backwards.

Mac gives no guidelines on who starts with initiative.

By the way, we played orders of battle using the points for a “small” CF battle. So the Germans had 80 and the Russians 87 because of national differences. Mac suggests 70 points of troops and no national differences. Not sure if that would have affected game balance.


Mission Markers

Mac suggested printing out the Mission markers to put into a cup. The fact there is only one of each mission in the cup means you can’t get more strange encounters, e.g. “Hold” versus “Hold” is not possible.

CF Mission Markers

CF Mission Markers

We used the markers above but I also made up more elaborate cards to do the same thing with.

Crossfire Missions Cards

Crossfire Missions Cards


Eastern Front Orders of Battle

I made four Soviet orders of battle and four German so the players could quickly choose on the day. These had the points of a “small” CF battle including national points modifiers. So the Germans had 80 points and the Russians 87. I’ve indicated on each order of battle what I think it is good for i.e. “Attack”, “Attack/Defence”, “Defence” and “Hidden”. These labels are descriptive not prescriptive, i.e. you are welcome to defend with an “Attack” formation. The only limitation is that the two “Hidden” orders of battle have already had the 15 points worth of troops removed to play for being deployed hidden.

Russian Orders of Battle – Small

Russian Order of Battle 1 – Attack

  • 1 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x CC (+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x On-table 50mm Mortar (12 FM)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR (Red dot)
  • 1 x Engineer Platoon: 1 x PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squad
  • 1 x FO for off-table 82mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x SU-152

Morale: Regular
Command & Control: Russian
87 AP

Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.

Russian Order of Battle 2 – Attack/Defence

  • 1 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x CC (+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x On-table 50mm Mortar (12 FM)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR (Red dot)
  • 1 x SMG Platoon: 1 x PC (+1/0); 3 x SMG Squad; One squad has ATR
  • 1 x HMG
  • 1 x FO for off-table 82mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table Heavy Artillery (4FM)

Morale: Regular
Command & Control: Russian
87 AP

Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.

Russian Order of Battle 3 – Defence

  • 1 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x CC (+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x On-table 50mm Mortar (12 FM)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR
  • 2 x HMG
  • 1 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table Heavy Artillery (4FM)
  • 3 x Sniper
  • 1 x Minefield
  • 1 x Bunker (2 SQ)

Morale: Regular
Command & Control: Russian
87 AP

Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.

Russian Order of Battle 4 – Hidden

  • 1 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x CC (+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x On-table 50mm Mortar (12 FM)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR
  • 1 x HMG
  • 1 x FO for off-table 82mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x Sniper
  • 1 x Minefield

Deploys Hidden
Morale: Regular
Command & Control: Russian
87 AP (65 AP + 15 for Hidden + 7 for National differences)

Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.

German Orders of Battle – Small

German Order of Battle 1 – Attack

  • 1 x Grenadier Company
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 2 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm Mortar (12FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+2); 3 x Rifle Squad
    • 2 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR (Red dot)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x Stug III F-G

Morale: Regular
Command & Control: German
80.5 AP

German Order of Battle 2 – Attack/Defence

  • 1 x Grenadier Company
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 2 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm Mortar (12FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+2); 3 x Rifle Squad
    • 2 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR (Red dot)
  • 1 x Assault Engineer Platoon: 1 x PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squad
  • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm Mortar (12FM)

Morale: Regular
Command & Control: German
80.5 AP

German Order of Battle 3 – Defence

  • 1 x Grenadier Company
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 2 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm Mortar (12FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+2); 3 x Rifle Squad
    • 2 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR (Red dot)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 75mm Infantry Gun (12FM)
  • 2 x Sniper
  • 1 x Minefield
  • 1 x Bunker (2SQ)

Morale: Regular
Command &ammp; Control: German
80 AP

German Order of Battle 4 – Hidden

  • 1 x Grenadier Company
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 2 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm Mortar (12FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+2); 3 x Rifle Squad
    • 2 x Rifle Platoon: 1 x PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squad; One Rifle Squad per Platoon has ATR (Red dot)
  • 1 x Minefield
  • 1 x Bunker (2SQ)

Deploys Hidden
Morale: Regular
Command & Control: German
80 AP (65 AP + 15 for Hidden)


Recommendations for version 2 of Mac’s missions

In my experience being hidden is worth 50% of the points of a stand, so in my games attacking visible forces are 50% bigger than their hidden opponents. I suggest version 2 of Mac’s Mission reflect that balance instead of the flat 15 army points (AP) cost of being hidden. This has the advantage that being hidden at the start is then factored into the victory conditions. For example, a rifle stand that starts visible is worth 3 AP to buy and worth 3 VP at the end of the game; similarly a rifle stand that starts hidden is worth 4.5 AP to buy and is worth 4.5 VP at the end of the game.

Rather than 70 points of troops for all forces I suggest playing orders of battle for a “small” CF battle, including national differences. These should be more balanced as they factor in command and control differences. That comes to 80 points for Germans and 87 for Soviets.

Mac doesn’t mention the table size. A small Crossfire game is usually on a 4’x4′ table; might be worth mentioning that.

Clarify who gets first initiative. I suggest that if one side is visible and the other hidden then the visible sides starts. If both are hidden or both visible then roll a die.

Rearrange the A4 sheet to include Mission Cards like those I showed above. Five mission cards and one card with the rules. That way players can just cut up the sheet and pay a game.


Possible Mini-Campaign

Mac’s Missions could form a good basis for a mini-campaign. I can imagine playing a set of 3 games over a couple of weeks. Highest VP overall wins or highest number of game win wins the campaign. Perhaps the players get some choice of Mission. For example a campaign in 1943 Sicily or 1944 Normandy would allow the Axis player to select only Dig In, Hold and Withdraw missions; they add Advance as a choice if they won the previous game. The Allied player only gets Advance or Assault; they add Hold and Dig In as options if they lost the previous game.

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